Tag Archive: mentoring

The Resilient Supply Chain: Does Your Environment Support Fear?

November 27th, 2018

In today’s Amazonian environment, customers expect rapid delivery (same day/next day is preferred regardless of industry), 24/7 accessibility, easy returns, innovative collaborations and much more.  Add disruptors popping up all over (such as Uber, Netflix and more), trade war impacts and technology disruptors to entire industries (such as artifical intelligence to the accounting industry), it is quite clear we are in a new ballgame.  One of the keys to successfully navigate this environment is to rely on your people.

When it comes to your people, if they don’t feel empowered, they will not take a leap of faith and bring up ideas, test theories etc.  In essence, they need to overcome fear to rise to the occasion. What is the environment like in your office? Here are a few questions to ponder:

  1.  Will employees be shunned if they go against the grain?  For example, if employees bring up an idea that isn’t popular or one that the manager thinks puts him/her in not-as-good a light, will they get shunned?  Before leaping to the answer of “of course not”, perhaps take a second look one or two levels below you. You might find a different answer than you wish.
  2.  Is failure celebrated?  Of course, we don’t mean multiple failures repeating the same mistakes but is a single failure/learning experience celebrated?
  3.  Would failure still be celebrated if it impacts month-end numbers? Unfortunately, that is when it will occur.  It is just luck of the draw.
  4.  Is it OK to help a project team?  For example, if an employee helps a project team that requires his/her expertise even if it isn’t relevant or supportive to his boss’s success, will it be OK?  Worse yet, if this person is busy (which will always be true), is it OK if he diverts a few hours to help the project team for the greater good even if it doesn’t help his manager?  Will the manager answer the same way if he didn’t know you were listening?
  5.  Do you provide tools and training?  Some employees will take the leap on their own whereas others want the extra support to feel qualified to provide ideas and advice.  Are you willing to invest in these?
  6.  Will you provide mentoring and support? Beyond tools and training, ongoing mentoring and encouragement is needed to facilitate the process.  Whether formal or informal, do you have a process in place that provides this support?

It is definitely much harder than it appears to have your employees overcome fear when you aren’t looking.  

Are you willing to invest time and money into this effort to enable the growth of your employees and the scalable, profitable growth of your business?

 



Are You Retaining Top Talent?

July 19th, 2018

 

Several clients have been short on top talent. With virtually zero unemployment, the traditional job search programs yield virtually 0% talent.  Even with an executive recruiter, you may be prone to lose your candidate at the last minute when his/her current job figures out they need to do a better job of retaining them and they take action.

 

To give you a few sagas from recent client examples:

  • I was helping a client determine what he needed (skills, aptitudes, behaviors). I agreed to review resumes to see if potential fit exists and to interview candidates.  Although he received lots of resumes, less than 1% were even worth a phone interview. My guess is less than 1% of those would be worth hiring. Talk about a SLOW road to filling an immediate gap.  
  • Within the last month, two clients used a recruiter (thank goodness as we didn’t have to take the slow boat to China).  They found a great candidate and lost the candidate at the last minute to an offer from the current employer who figured out they didn’t want to lose their employee.  Frustrating!

Instead of either of these scenarios, why not retain your key performers?  Start with the following:

  1. #1 People work for people; not companies.  Who are your leaders? Are you developing them?  In the last six months, this too has arisen. That’s an exciting part of consulting – you get to see it all!  In this case, it wasn’t good. Good people left a new ‘leader’. Think about the productivity of the ones staying to finish that ‘last year before retirement’.  How awful!
  2. Provide training opportunities.  People want to develop skills and advance their career which can be a win-win in terms of gaining skills to help you achieve profitable growth.  Check out APICS-IE’s classes for starters.
  3. Mentoring. The only way to improve behavior is through trial and error and modeling behavior.  

What are you doing to retain your top talent?

 



Women in Supply Chain (and Why Men Should Care)

August 22nd, 2017

Supply Chain BriefingWhether you’re a man or woman, if you are in the end-to-end supply chain, you should be thinking about women in supply chain. We’re facing a serious skills gap in the next several years in manufacturing and supply chain circles. Although women make up 47% of the labor force, they compose only 27% of the manufacturing workforce. Thus, logic dictates that if we can raise that percentage, we’ll cover much of our skills gap!

I spoke on “Women in Supply Chain” at the western district conference for APICS (#1 supply chain management association) this weekend. I also am a mentor for Women in Supply Chain at the Drucker School of Management. Since I have been the sole woman in a leadership role in manufacturing circles frequently throughout my career, I don’t even notice it. However, we should pay attention.

Women in Supply Chain

Talking about “Women in Supply Chain” at the Western District Conference for APICS

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

There is no doubt that we should be concerned about the impending skills gap.  Almost every client tells me that they do not have the skills  they need in certain areas of their manufacturing/ supply chain.  And, this issue is not improving – as baby boomers retire, knowledge leaves with them.  Technologies are constantly improving, requiring higher skill levels in every respect – which is also driving the skills gap.  We are in process of researching the current skills gap.  Please provide your feedback with this short survey.

The great news is that there are many people thinking about this topic.  The Drucker School and Toyota created the Women in Supply Chain mentoring program.  APICS, the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte created STEP Ahead.  Harvey Mudd College, the #1 school for engineering attracts an enrollment of at least 50% women.  The attendees at my speech last weekend for the western district of APICS was 50% women.  And the list goes on.

So, what can we do?  Mentor young women in supply chain.  Find ways to volunteer your time, educate and be involved with the women in your company.  Perhaps think about how you see them and make a conscious effort to encourage them to grow, invite their colleagues and friends to join the supply chain field.  And, by all means, do NOT ignore the men.  We need to grow our skills base dramatically to meet the demands of the next century.



Deloitte Survey Says Talent Gap Jeopardizes Success

February 22nd, 2017

According to the 2017 Deloitte Global CPO Survey, 85% of those surveyed felt that talent was the largest factor in driving procurement performance yet 60% think they have a skills gap to deliver on their procurement objectives. My clients are experiencing this same phenomenon, no matter the role within manufacturing and supply chain. What are you doing to find, retain and develop your talent?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

We are in a volatile business environment – global trade is evolving, risks abound, regulations are changing, supply chains are complex and significant change has become the norm. Instead of complaining or burying our head in the sand, we must find a way to get ahead of the curve. This starts with TALENT.

I am constantly asked to help clients, trade association contacts and alliance colleagues find, retain and train talent. No matter the technical topic, it will not succeed without talent. Thus, we better pay attention. Due to this continual feedback, I have dusted off my Skills Gap research from late 2013 and am refreshing it. I’d appreciate your feedback and insights for my research. I’ll keep you in the loop on the results.

In the interim, start thinking about the skills gap. What will you need a year down-the-line? Are you positioned to not only succeed short-term but to leverage opportunities as they arise over the next 12-24 months? If not, you have a skills gap. Put off spending cash in other areas but do not skimp on your talent.

Think about your objectives and back into your plan. Should you hire employees or fill expertise gaps with consultants? Will top talent WANT to work with you and in your company culture? Don’t assume the answer is yes — think about it and find out. What should you do to attract and retain top talent? That might also lead you to the third option which you should pursue regardless — developing talent. What training, education and mentoring programs do you offer?

 



Keys to Delegation Success

May 20th, 2016
delegation

With today’s high customer expectations for quick service, 24/7 accessibility and expanded services supply chain managers are increasingly overloaded. Delegation is key to meeting demands and working efficiently.

In today’s Amazon-impacted world, customers have higher expectations of rapid turnaround, 24/7 accessibility, and increased levels of service. These events have contributed to an information-overloaded society.

Not only do we receive countless emails, texts, social media messages, marketing messages and the like, but we also are expected to be able to make sense of it all and execute projects successfully – on-time, on budget and on results. A tall order to be sure!

Survival seems challenging enough, let alone thriving in these sorts of conditions. In taking a step back from the details, it becomes clear that we must employ tools to increase our chances of success. And, of course, we’d like to make the process easier and clearer along the way. One option to achieve these goals is to delegate. Those who properly delegate will have more time to focus on critical priorities while keeping details moving in the right direction. A few tips that will help ensure success include:

  1. Choose wisely– One of the keys to delegating successfully is to select the “right” tasks to delegate. Delegating away your strengths rarely achieves success, and it does nothing for morale. Typically, delegating your areas of weakness can be a good approach; however, it is vital to take a few precautionary steps. Gain expert advice in surrounding yourself with strong project team members and supporters. Leverage those strengths of your team members that happen to coincide with your weaknesses. Don’t waste time delegating “C” items. Ignore them. Every action requires effort. Focus your efforts on what’s most important. Delegate the next set of priorities as you’ll want to make sure those get accomplished. Think about “C” items when all else is done.
  2. Empower– Don’t throw around the word empowerment lightly. It is the rare project manager who knows how to empower his/her team. It means you must start by being a great leader. Provide guidelines. Collaborate on goals. Address the hard issues. Encourage team members to try new ideas. Support them in their failures. Take responsibility for the problems and share successes. Give your project team the ability to make decisions within their guidelines with full knowledge that they’ll be supported no matter the result. Soon, your team members will feel empowered. Once they are empowered, delegation becomes more of a collaborative affair.
  3. Diversity– There are many different tasks required to ensure a successful outcome for a project team. In order to leverage your team members’ individual strengths while minimizing their weaknesses, you’ll need a diverse set of skills and people. Thus, you’ll have a much better chance of success in delegating the diverse types of tasks required if you have a broad set of skills in your team with a wide array of backgrounds. This will also stimulate ideas and debate which can encourage empowerment so long as the leader supports experimentation.
  4. Core Metrics– Undoubtedly, no matter how effective you are in delegating, it will fall apart without core metrics in place. Work with your team to determine which critical milestones should be monitored. Develop leading metrics that will raise a red flag if the project is veering off-track. Put effort into making sure that the metrics selected will provide warnings in advance if needed. Don’t have too many metrics which become burdensome to track; instead, select the “right” few that will be indicators of success. Agree upon them with your team upfront.
  5. Provide training & mentoring– In addition to delegating assignments, it is imperative that you take the time to accompany that task with the proper training and experiences to go with it. Mentoring can be valuable as well. Mentoring provides an example of someone who has “been there, done that” who is also an expert who is available for advice. By providing mentoring and/or helping your project team members find mentors in their area of expertise, you have, in effect, purchased insurance for your delegation. As anyone who has even been in an accident knows, insurance becomes invaluable when you need it.

Delegating project tasks has become a must in today’s new normal business environment. No leader has enough time to “do it all himself”, and no leader has the broad and diverse set of expertise required to be the ideal resource to handle every task. Instead, delegation provides not only a way to make sure the project gets done on time but it also adds to the quality of the result by leveraging team members’ strengths for the collective good.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Put Your Eagle Eye on What’s Key to Success-Leadership

Empower Your People to Grow